Sunday, 15 August 2010

Had A Cream Tea Today And Lived. So Did Friend Who Took Me

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www.agracefuldeath.blogspot.com for the exhibition A Graceful Death, paintings from the end of life


Bravely Taken Out For A Cream Tea And Survived.  We Both Did.

The kindest, sweetest of friends took me out for a cream tea today.  Anyone who knows me knows that I find this kind of invitation irresistable.  "Meet me," he said,"at 2pm outside my house, and we will go in my car to a Place Known Only To Some, and I will treat you to a cream tea."  "You're on mate" I replied with gusto.  2.06pm I pull up outside Friend's house, and see him standing,waiting and looking into the distance waiting for me to arrive on my bike.  Since last weekend and the rolling tea and cake birthday thing, I am fat and disabled from a sugar and cream and butter overdose and even if I wanted to, I could not possibly ride my bike until I recover.  Besides, it was pouring with rain.  A bit.  My recovery, I have to say, is underway, in that I have gone to bed early every night this week, and I have run screaming from the room when seeing even a photo of a cake.  

So Dear Sweet friend, a very private and quiet sort of fellow, arranged with me ages ago, to treat me to this most wonderful of events, a Sussex Cream Tea in a Cottage Garden.  Despite being spotty and unbalanced from the previous weekend, I was really looking forward to today.  All my plans before my birthday weekend were to cycle to his house, dressed in a gay flouncy floral frock, with plenty of sun block on because it was mid August and dreadfully hot and sunny, and leap from my bike with a ,"Hello Old Thing", slapping him firmly and appropriately on the back in a familiar and friendly way.  "Righty-ho!" Sweet Dear Friend would say with a jolly chuckle, "hop into the jallopy and off we go!" 

We would go off into the August heat through the dusty, hazy overgrown Sussex lanes singing We're All Going On A Summer Holiday together and laughing a lot, till we came upon the Mystery Cream Tea Cottage where we would sit in the garden amongst the hollyhocks and buzzing bees in the blazing sunshine.  When giving the order I would say with a happy smile "Bring it on Mary (or Gwen or Whoever She Was), give me the works".  Dear Sweet Friend would say the same and an afternoon of clotted cream, jam and scones would keep us occupied till the sun went down and it was time to go home and feed my boys.

But I had had a whole three days of Cake, Pavlova, Cream, Chocolate, Sugar and nothing else.  I could only fit into my Big Trousers.  It was pouring with rain outside and the wind was force a billion.  It was cold, and I was freezing.  I wore blankets in the house.  My bike looked like the Enemy, I thought 7 miles to Chichester was outrageous, and I was still in withdrawal from the birthday festivities.  Add to that a whole week, despite going to bed early, of fevered sleeplessness.  That is what I had done to myself.  That is what Dear Sweet Friend was going to take out to a Cream Tea Treat.  I had to smarten up.

So a tough morning of Lying in Bed seemed the answer.  Then up, new lipstick, wear a Skirt that had elasticated waist band and lots of colourful jewellery that said Look At Me!  Not At Her Wobbly Tummy!
and a nice pot of tea.  Good.  Put the bike out of sight and take the car.  Simple.  Tell Dear Friend that as it was raining I had to drive.  Fix him with a look that says Don't Argue.  I washed my hair, I selected a nice pink winter jacket, said No to breakfast and by 2pm was ready and willing.

The tearooms were all I could wish for and more.  They were Fabulous.  Dear Sweet Friend knows all these places, he takes his mother out every Sunday and explores and finds nooks and crannies and secret tea rooms and gardens and houses to visit.  This place was a private house, there was no sign of a tearoom till you looked carefully at the wall and it said in teeny writing  Tea Rooms. This Way. And pointed to someone's front door.  In we go, and a teeny cottagy room with about 5 tables with 4 chairs each, was given over to afternoon teas.  Here is where it gets fabby.  The walls were Orange!  And Yellow!  A strong but warm  shade of each.  The tables had light blue and white spotty wipe clean cloths on them and the floor was still its old uneven red brick, worn with the passing of feet over the years.  On the deep window sills were large patterned cushions in bright shades of red, yellow and orange, and some blue, and the windows dominated the top and left hand side of the room giving it light and air.  And finally all around this tiny but glorious room were sets of crockery that looked to my untrained eye, to be from the 1930s, and splashes of colour from huge orange silk poppy flower arrangements. The tea, when it arrived, was served in wonderful mismatching but utterly perfect blue and white crockery and a big plus for me, the teapots were real teapots, not those ghastly metal things that make me want to get nasty.

The man who came to take our order wore a bright lime green shirt and I screamed.  I am not going home I said to him, I am moving in here.  He must have heard this many times before though, he just smiled graciously and said "Full cream tea plus sandwiches and cakes for you then, I take it?"  The tea when it arrived was everything Enid Blyton tells us it should be.  Yummy, in a word.  Oh I even finished Dear Sweet Friend's bowl of cream with my finger as well as my own.  He has manners and an off button.  I don't.  But he has the grace to be amused and to let me eat his cake.  As we were having tea, the sun came out and shone right onto our table, and at that moment, 3.30 on the dot, the door opened and the tables were  filled with elderly people smiling and chatting and looking so jolly and well dressed that I knew that this is where I was meant to live. 

Before we went home, Dear Sweet Friend parked the car at the beginning of a part of the South Downs Walk and we had a little wander along the track.  Gosh, he knows all about plants and nature, and it took us ages to go a few yards because he was so excited about what was growing in the hedgerows.  I liked this, it was very good to have it all shown to me and explained.  I am going to take Eileen out with us next time, she would love the tea and the plants and South Down trail after.

But the heavens opened and we had to find the car and go home.  I had a wonderful time, and think that it was probably the best cream tea experience that I have ever had.

Thank You Dear Sweet Friend, it was Fab. 

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